Thursday, May 31, 2012
After a sweep at the Atlanta Braves, the Nationals went to Miami for an apparent vacation, as they followed up the series by getting swept. Not exactly terrible, based on winning the road trip at very tough NL East opponents. However, the management has created a pitching...situation for lack of a better term. Chien Ming-Wang and Ross Detwiler have each been competing with one another for the last rotation spot with neither exactly getting a vote of confidence. Anytime one gets into trouble, the other is in the bullpen warming up ready to replace him. Quite a conundrum that may fuel a competitive fire within those two. Or...the lack of confidence could tear them down, but thats sort of a worst case scenario.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
For the first time all season, and on national TV, the Nationals swept the Braves thus sending them on an 8 game skid. Sweeping the series has guaranteed the Nats a winning road trip to their three biggest divisional rivals. The pitching remained the star during the three game set with the Braves, but the once dormant offense has awoken and finally given the starters some breathing room. During the series, Ross Detwiler was demoted to the bullpen as Chien Ming-Wang returns to the team and the starting rotation. Chad Tracy and Jesus Flores were bitten by the injury bug, Tracy goes to the DL and Corey Brown gets the call to replace him. Flores should be fine, as he said he just tweaked his hamstring. So Maldando will get some time behind the dish as Jesus recovers. Up next is the Miami Marlins as the last series on the road trip started on Monday.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
With the wild win on Monday night, the Nats got their big road trip off to a good start. This being only May, it's difficult to place a ton of importance on a 9 game divisional road trip, but with national prominence on the line, the stakes have been raised. The NL East is the only division in baseball where all teams are at .500 or better. So a road trip to Philly, to Atlanta, and to Miami is going to be a big test. During this trip pseudo closer Henry Rodriguez has been removed already. Leaving the door open for someone like Tyler Clippard who has recently stated his desire to do so. Craig Stammen has done exceptionally well making the transfer to the pen and could effectively set up or close. Sean Burnett has a little experience as a closer and has bailed Hot Rod out on two recent occasions. So there are options within the bullpen, skipper Davey Johnson just needs to make a decision. And quickly given the importance placed on this road trip.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
As the Nationals remain atop the NL East, a troubling sign has emerged as temp closer Henry Rodriguez struggles to find his grove. Things started off strongly but are rocky as of late, blowing a save in Cincinnati and loading the bases last night against the Padres. Skipper Davey Johnson brought in Sean Burnett to close the door, which he did successfully. Unfortunately, these haven't been isolated incidents as of late, leading many fans to call for a new close, like Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen, or Sean Burnett. However, I believe HotRod should be given at least one more shot. When he's in the right state of mind, he is very difficult to hit. A 100 MPH fastball is one hell of a weapon when aimed properly. But, if his struggles do continue, look for Johnson to go in a different direction, as HotRod isn't his permanent closer.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
With the broken wrist Jayson Werth suffered repaired with surgery via the mayo clinic, he joins closer Drew Storen, slugger Michael Morse, and reliever Brad Lidge on the disabled list. Injuries for the Nationals so far haven't been a death sentence, but more of a hinderance. So far this year, the Nats have yet to have their full line up and bullpen ready and on the field. Yet they find themselves toward the top of the division. With many of the important cogs of this team shelved and not due back until around the all-star break, the GM Mike Rizzo has stated that the team will look for replacements from within. Normally this wouldn't be too big a deal, but so many members of the team struggling, there will be increasing pressure from the fans to get a hold of some help. If Espinosa can snap out of his sophomore slump and make opponents pay for walking LaRoche or Zimmerman, then a trade could be rendered unnecessary. So far, that has seemed like a big if. Xavier Nady has been right there with his struggles as well, but no one has emerged as a potential replacement for Werth. All in all, if the Nats can tread water until the big guns come back, then best truly has yet to come.
Monday, May 7, 2012
With the Phillies leaving town with a salvage game in a three game set, they leave behind a mass of irate Nats fans. During the first inning, Cole Hamels of the Phillies nailed Bryce Harper in the back intentionally to "send a message". What that message was, only God knows, but in a sort of retaliation move, Harper, who advanced to third, stole home. But for official retaliation, Jordan Zimmerman plunked Hamels in his first AB. Now to most fans, that would've squashed it. But when the Phillies fans who, unsuccessfully, tried to take over the park cheered Jayson Werth's broken wrist, it reopened the wound. In the post presser, Hamels openly admitted to hitting Harper so a suspension is more than likely to follow.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
With the Nationals and Phillies playing on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball tonight, the first game on such a venue for a game not involving a stadium opening. This game will be the final of a three game set with the Nats looking for the sweep. During this set, we have witnessed a walk-off single by catcher Wilson Ramos, and an offensive explosion sparked by Jayson Werth's three-run Werthquake. The pitching staff remains the best in the majors, while the offense is still a bit anemic with the 3-4-5 hitters on the DL with various injuries. There has been some talk of a trade needed for a centerfielder like Denard Span of the Twins, or BJ Upton of the Rays. I'm not one of those people. If any trade is to be made, it should be to bolster the injury riddled bullpen. The offense will pick as those who are injured come back. Ian Desmond has been doing pretty well as a some what unconventional lead off hitter, and Harper and Ankiel have looked very good in the outfield as CF and LF. So a trade would be a bit of an overreaction, especially when having to give up some very promising young talent.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
With a win to break the streak of five games in a row looking ever more bleak, young phenom Bryce Harper lead off the 9th inning with his second double, third almost home run, of the night. Ian Desmond stepped up to the plate and ended the game with a walk off home run into the visitor's bullpen. During the game, the Nats scored first for the first time in what feels like a week, and even after EJax blew the lead the offense finally tried to pick him up. But, the lead was lost again and in the ninth, the Nats found themselves down a run, with Diamondbacks closer JJ Putz on the mound, and well, you know the rest. All in all, the mistakes can be forgiven with a win, which it is.